For those who have never been privileged to attend the July Vintage meeting at Road America I must explain that a much enjoyed part of the weekend are the parades to the Town Centre of Elkhart Lake where a concours takes place. These are partly symbolic as long before the track was constructed real ‘road racing’ took place over a course set out on closed public roads, with the start/finish in the town right by the railway station.
The original incarnation of racing is remembered in two parades, Friday for racing cars and Saturday for sports cars. The track is almost three miles from the town centre and the nearer you get to town so the sidewalk is populated with more and more people waving and cheering the cars as they pass by. For this event the racing cars are permitted to drive on the open road!
Disaster struck this year when the McLaren M8F of Pierre Mulacek (driven by one of his crew, together with the guy's young son in the passenger side) went out of control and sped off the road with the throttle stuck open. As the car left the highway it struck a post or tree stump and was launched over the parapet of the road into a swamp , turning over as it did so and landing upside down in around four feet of murky sludge.
First to realize what was happening was Lola owner Johan Woerheide who leapt from his car and without hesitation jumped into the swamp to release the driver.
Untypically modest after the event Johan commented;
“The guy was able to talk and said "I need help". I said "everything is going to be alright" and he said "Its not my car”. I said "That's even better" but he did not laugh.
THANK GOD the boy was able to free himself and get out the other side of the car. I never realized there was anyone else in the car.
Brian Redman was coming the other way and he stopped, and some people ran down from the road and pulled all of us up the bank. I just helped the guy get to the bank and I'm glad I was stuck in the mud because it gave me leverage. He was a lot bigger than me!
Man, I could not believe it when that car lit them up and shot off the road and rolled. I just was not expecting it. I'm no hero because I never felt in any danger. It was a critical situation but did not seem dangerous at the time, but if I had seen a snake like people said that swamp was full off, I would have stepped on the poor guys head to get out!”
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of CanAm Lola Cars International had commissioned a trophy to be presented for an act of sportsmanship during the event. When conceiving the idea no one could have guessed that the first recipient would not have demonstrated just sportsmanship but also an act of courage.
It was my great pleasure to present the ‘Lola Cars Trophy’ to Johan Woerheide.
Johan’s adventure did not go unnoticed in the paddock and next morning he was presented with the mark of his latest appointment – Swamp Patrol!
Johan will keep the Lola Trophy for one year and it will be awarded next at the Road America event 2007.